The Glass Hammer is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by featuring profiles of Hispanic Women Business Leaders all week long!
Yvonne Garcia, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Client Solutions for Investment Manager Services at State Street Corporation, wishes she understood the value of professional networking and the reward associated with giving back early in her career. Although the knowledge of these important factors came along with experience, Garcia is building a strong foundation for her career on these professional tenets.
She explained, “It is at this point that it truly sinks in that you need to have access to resources, connections to decision makers, and supporters, as they will be critical throughout your professional and personal journey.”
Garcia is a true example of a professional woman who is being proactive in making sure future generations have access to the resources she identified as being so valuable to career advancement at any level. In addition to her SVP role at State Street, Garcia also serves as the National President for ALPFA, the largest Latino Professional Business Organization in the United States.
Prior to joining State Street, Garcia served as the Director in Marketing and Distribution Strategy for Liberty Mutual’s Agency Corporation. In this role, she had the opportunity to contribute to the growth and development of new products and channels. Additionally, she was responsible for organizing a global team to ensure that all team members were delivering a consistent message true to Liberty Mutual’s brand.
Previously, Garcia also served as Vice President for Bank of America’s China Construction Bank Strategic Assistance. In this role, Garcia, along with her team, successfully created and implemented over eighty wealth management centers all throughout China. As a fully certified Six Sigma Black Belt, Garcia develops and adheres to well-planned processes and strategies and prides herself on delivering value to her clients at State Street using new approaches that are not typical within the financial industry.
In her current role at State Street, Garcia is primarily responsible for developing new client relationships, deploying cutting-edge technology and operational processes, and delivering complex consulting engagements for existing and potential State Street clients. She formulates client-focused strategies that enhance ROI for the prestigious list of the global clients she serves and creates business value for State Street.
She is particularly excited about the internal and external opportunities associated with operating a global business. Garcia said, “One area I am interested in right now is how to foster corporate cultures that encourage intelligent risk-taking behavior and how best to lead that change and get others to realize the necessity of this given the global shift in demographics (i.e. age, culture and ethnicity).”
Advice for Professional Women
According to Garcia, the lack of women in senior roles in any industry is due in large part to misinformation, unconscious bias, and unfamiliarity with the value women’s perspectives bring. She encourages women to use their own unique background and culture as a way to bolster their leadership skills at work. Garcia added, “My experience won’t necessarily be the same as others, however; I am aware of the strengths of my experiences and culture and how they fit with my surroundings. I personally have found a way to leverage my culture and leadership skills to lead in a unique way, one where authenticity and collaboration prosper.”
Finding an authentic sense of self is something Garcia considers to be essential for all professional women, but especially for young women just starting out in their career. She advised, “It is critical to realize that the diversity of thought and cultural experiences that you bring are so valuable to organizations. Embrace who you are, make sure you find mentors and sponsors that will help you develop and grow as a leader. Get involved in volunteer organizations like ALPFA where you will be able to grow and give back at the same time.”
To her peers in the industry, Garcia urges everyone to move away from discussions about glass ceilings and barriers to women’s success. Instead, she wants senior women to create stronger networks, recognize the power of solidarity, and focus on the positive impact a successful network of professional women can have on their companies and their industries.
Women of ALPFA
“The women of ALPFA program is near and dear to my heart and is one of ALPFA’s most prestigious initiatives,” said Garcia. As the National President of ALPFA, Garcia is committed to developing strong Latino business leaders and preparing the next generation for success in their chosen career paths.
One initiative she is focused on right now is a leadership transformation process that will bring a new strategy that provides a network approach to women’s leadership development. She added, “I am certain this new model will be adopted by other chapters and as a result will have a tremendous impact across the United States.”
Leadership development is the core of ALPFA, and according to Garcia, it is never too early to start developing leadership traits and skills. She recalled the day in which she decided to be independent and embrace her individuality, two qualities necessary for any effective business leader, but most importantly for women leaders. Garcia recounted her story in a speech she gave at the 2013 ALPFA gala.
She said, “At the age of 10 my sister put her foot down and demanded my mother stop dressing us like twins. You see – I wanted to be just like her, look like her, do everything she did, and at one point, I even thought of becoming a doctor just like her. She was my idol and still is. That day for me marked my true independence as I now had to make my own decisions and emerge as my own person.” This moment resonates with Garcia every day as she continues to forge her own path and embrace her individuality in her professional journey.
Outside the Office
Outside of the office, Garcia is involved in organizations that are near and dear to her heart. In addition to reinforcing the mission of ALPFA, Garcia is also the co-founder of Milagros para Niños, a board at Children’s Hospital in Boston, which has raised more than $4 million in funds for Hispanic children who can’t afford medical care. Garcia also enjoys spending time with her family when she is not at work.
According to Garcia, her family has instilled in her a strong appreciation for diversity that she applies every day. She said, “Although we come from different walks of life, we have one common denominator that brings us all together and that is respect, admiration, compromise and the ability to celebrate our differences.”